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 Wednesday 03 October 2007
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KENYA: Rufus Mwandiki: "At the end the patient dies, and I am left feeling affected."

Photo: Keishamaza Rukikaire/IRIN
Looking after terminally ill patients can be emotionally and physically draining
NAIROBI, 28 September 2007 (PlusNews) - Rufus Mwandiki, 32, is a palliative carer specialising in the care of HIV/AIDS patients at the Chogoria Mission Hospital in Kenya's central Meru district. Palliative care is the term used for the type of nursing provided to terminally ill patients in the last phase of life. Mwandiki talked to IRIN/PlusNews about his work.

"I have been working as a palliative care nurse for four years. Before that, I worked as a community health nurse and a nurse in the maternity ward at the hospital. My work involves providing counselling for patients and their families and also training on home-based care.

"Trying to provide hope for patients who know that there is no cure for their illness is not easy. Some patients have a difficult time accepting their situation and still seek alternative treatments that end up costing them a lot of money. There is no way I can stop them from doing this because they need hope.

"Providing palliative care is not easy, because when you take care of a sick person for a long time you develop an attachment; you want to see the person's health improving. However, this is not usually the case because at the end the patient dies, and one is left feeling affected.

"As most of our patients often lack the money to pay for palliative care at the hospitals, we mainly advocate for home-based care, but getting to the sick to monitor them is hard, as they live in hard-to-reach rural areas.

"I occasionally also get burnout because this job is very involving, both emotionally and physically. But, regardless of how hopeless the situation seems, I feel the need to be there to help, to care.

"What inspires me to keep on going when a patient eventually dies is knowing that I did my level best to help when the patient was still alive.

"At the end of the day, providing palliative care is a calling."


Theme(s): (IRIN) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.